Students shine during history competition
April 18, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The late rap artist Tupac Shakur’s legacy is unlikely to be included in the pages of U.S. history or English textbooks, but for three Kubasaki High School students, his musical and social influences are undeniable.
So when it came time for junior Payton Lueken, 16, to put together a project on a history maker for the National History Day competition, Shakur was an excellent fit.
The competition challenges middle and high school students to take an interactive approach to studying history through theme-related topics that call for extensive research and analysis.
This year’s theme is "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies."
Shakur’s struggles with adversity, lyrical depictions of violence and crime, and his advocacy for social and racial justice inspired a generation of artists as well as listeners, said Lueken, 16.
"He came from hardships, but he inspired people to try their hardest and not to give up," he said.
Lueken, along with 16-year-old classmates Cody Everett and Jai Nave, created a Web site on Shakur featuring a biography, sound bites and music postings.
The site won first place Wednesday in the Department of Defense Schools-Okinawa district competition.
About 100 students from Kadena Middle School and from Kubasaki and Kadena high schools showcased more than 50 projects for a judging committee of servicemembers and civilians, said Melanie Bales, a DODDS information support specialist who helped coordinate the event. The competitors had scored high in their individual school competitions held in March, she said.
Winners of Wednesday’s contest will advance to a Pacificwide competition.
Students competed in five categories — exhibit, performance, documentary, research papers and Web sites.
Kubasaki High School senior Justin Rollins, 18, said he was able to tap into his video-editing skills to make a short documentary on Army Gen. Mark Clark, who fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
Rollins spent about 20 hours editing and adding audio, and weeks scouring the Internet for images.
Rollins said his fascination with World War II led him to research Clark and led to his discovery that heroic action is not always glorious.
"Most heroes make a lot of mistakes, but they redeem themselves at the end," Rollins said.
Project subjects ranged from well-known figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Adolf Hitler, to lesser known people such as Girl Scouts of America founder Juliette Gordon and Amalia Hernandez, who helped pioneer Mexican ballet or folklorico dancing.
Karen Luckenbaugh, who teaches U.S. history at Kadena Middle School, said the competition gives students a chance to think outside the textbook and use critical-thinking skills.
"It’s a higher level of thinking. I’m always amazed at what the students come up with," Luckenbaugh said.
For junior Josie Herrera, 17, and sophomore Brooke Ramos, 15, the highlight of preparing a skit on feminist activist and author Betty Friedan was acquiring personal insight into the pioneer of the modern women’s movement.
"You have to become your character — really get into their minds," Herrera said.
Internet research led them to Emily Bazelon, who in an e-mail response described Friedan as lovable and funny.
"I never really thought she’d write back, so we were really excited," Bazelon said.
Contest winnersOkinawa district winners in "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies" competition.
Junior DivisionGroup and individual exhibitsFirst: "Leonardo da Vinci," Derrice Daniels, eighth grade, Kadena Middle SchoolSecond: "Helen Keller," Vanessa Donzello, eighth grade, Kadena Middle SchoolThird: "Martin Luther King Jr.," Quinton Loney, Terrell Sheffey and Albert Lee, sixth grade, Kadena Middle School
Senior DivisionIndividual exhibits First (tie): "Louise Pasteur," Dex Cicchinelli, 10th grade, Kubasaki High School; and "Charles Darwin," Tammy Ragan, 10th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "DNA discovery," Angelina Furusho, 10th grade, Kubasaki.
Group exhibitsFirst: "Jackie Robinson," Leilan Kennedy, Elizabeth Jackson and Katelyn Lerette, ninth grade, Kubasaki.
Individual performanceFirst: "Rosie the Riveter," Erin Wells, 10th grade, Kubasaki.
Group performanceFirst: "Betty Friedan," Josie Herrera, 11th grade; Jessica Herrera, 10th grade; Brooke Ramos, 10th grade; and Katherine Ampong, 12th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Shakespeare," Cristina Vasquez and Esther Velker, 10th grade, Kadena High School.
Individual documentaryFirst: "Gen. Mark Clark," Justin Rollins, 12th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Adolf Hitler," Matt Cole, 10th grade, Kadena High School.Third: "Alice Paul," Cait Frandsen, 12th grade, Kubasaki.
Group documentaryFirst: "Elvis Presley," Brittany Nye and Keeley Coate, 12th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Edgar Allan Poe," Katy Branscomb, Monte Stevens and Elizabeth Belew, 11th grade, Kubasaki.Third: "Audrey Hepburn," Anna Mueller, Taylor Sizemore and Christin Gentz, 10th grade, Kadena.
Individual Web sitesFirst: "Bushi Matsumura," Cody DeVries, ninth grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Martin Luther King Jr.," Armond Little, ninth grade, Kubasaki.
Group Web sitesFirst: "Tupac Shakur," Jai Nave, Payton Lueken and Cody Everett, 11th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Bob Dylan," Andrew Haar, Taran Radcliffe and Brandon Logan, 11th grade, Kubasaki.Third: "Edgar Allan Poe," Kevin Orr, Frank Rogina and Nick Barker, ninth grade, Kubasaki.
PapersFirst: "Louis Braille," Katherine Ampong, 12th grade, Kubasaki.Second: "Commodore Matthew C. Perry," Nadine Kalloway, 11th grade, Kubasaki.Third: "Oda Nobunaga," William Bradley, 10th grade, Kadena.
Source: Melanie Bales, Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Okinawa District.